Good News for the Windsor Inn
Windsor Community Revitalization Organization members meet with
On March 3, 2017 Board members of Windsor's CRO met with elected officials from the Village, Town, County and State levels to put together a plan to save and revitalize the old Windsor Inn building at 123 Main St., Windsor, NY.
State Assemblyman Cliff Crouch hosted the event in his Binghamton office. WCRO President Jerry Redmon, Vice President Steve Herz, Treasurer Elaine Card and Secretary Sue Rambo attended and were pleased to welcome Broome County Executive Jason Garner, Broome County Legislator Scott Baker, Town of Windsor Supervisor Carolyn Price and Village of Windsor Mayor Ron Harting to the meeting.
Many good ideas and valuable tips were shared that afternoon including possible funding sources and information on similar projects in our area. Several participants came away with a list of tasks to complete in order to move the project to the next level.
The group will be meeting for a follow-up in a few weeks.
For more information, please visit the website at www.windsorCRO.org
Windsor Community Revitalization Organization Inc.is pleased and grateful
to receive a $15,000 grant from
And More Good News!
to Restore Windsor,
one Building at a Time
A grassroots group is fundraising to revitalize a historic inn as an anchor for growth
WINDSOR – Five residents gathered around a table last week on the second floor of the Windsor Whip Works Art Gallery, a restored building anchoring the south end of Main Street, to discuss how a landmark of the past could be the key to the village's future.
The talk turned to times that people in and around the village have stepped up to help neighbors in need. Everybody around the table had a story: the thousands donated for a woman who needed surgery; the house built for a young soldier wounded in Iraq; the chores taken care of for a relative injured in a farm accident; the help that poured in after a house fire.
Bill DePersis and Sue Rambo examine the plans for the Windsor Inn 1832 during a meeting of the nonprofit Windsor Community Revitalization Organization Inc. at the Windsor Whip Works Art Gallery in the village. (Photo: JOHN R. ROBY / STAFF PHOTO)
Now, these residents want to continue that tradition as the five directors of the Windsor Community Revitalization Organization Inc., a recently formed nonprofit dedicated to grassroots revitalization. They look around and see a village in need after years of economic decline, they said, and they want to step up and give something back.
"The village has lost a lot of businesses," said Steve Herz, vice president of the group and owner of a horse farm in the Town of Windsor. "On Main Street there are many empty storefronts. We feel it is incumbent on us and our community to revitalize this village."
The directors — three are lifetime and two are longtime residents — have set their sights on 123 Main St., an apartment building with a history as a hotel and inn that dates back to the mid-19th century. The group is planning to buy the property and restore it to a space with lodging, a restaurant and tavern. The project, dubbed Windsor Inn 1832, could be transformational for the village of just over 900, with a one-street commercial corridor, said Bill DePersis, president of the organization.
"To take a building like this and transform it into a hotel and tavern will radically change our small little business district," said Bill DePersis, president of the organization and owner of a risk management consulting business in the village. "It's not like dropping a teaspoon into the ocean. This project will have a significant impact."
The Windsor Community Revitalization Organization is in the fund-raising stage, and is looking to raise about $25,000 for a down payment to the current building owner. The two parties have agreed to the sale, and the group is committed to assisting the apartment residents with relocating, Herz and DePersis said, a process that is probably two years in the future.
The size of the project and of the village itself are both a blessing and a curse. The money required does not approach the scale of student housing developments in Binghamton and Vestal or the plans by the Broome County Land Bank Corp. and Newman Development for 50 Front St. in Binghamton.
Yet the relatively small size and location outside the county's urban core have led the organization to focus its fund-raising locally, through direct outreach and a community meeting held at the Whip Works gallery in early January.
Contributions have come in from village and town residents, and from people with ties to Windsor who now live all over the country, DePersis said.
The funds will go entirely to acquiring the building and maintenance until grants are lined up to assist with the remodeling. No one in the group is paid.
"We say this is an investment that you make with your heart," Herz said. "Three of us have lived here our whole lives, and it's important to all of us."
The five directors bring experience as well as passion for the project. Bill Pesce is in charge of marketing, and has been pushing the job for about eight years, since shortly after he and his wife opened the Windsor Whip Works. Transplants from Long Island, they bought the building in a state of extreme disrepair — floors were collapsed and the roof caving in — spent five years restoring it, and opened the art gallery a decade ago.
Compared with what he went through, Pesce said, a project like the Windsor Inn 1832, in a space that's both historic and habitable, is more than manageable.
For Elaine Card, who serves the group as treasurer, Windsor became home when she was looking to start her insurance business. She recalled driving into the village six years ago almost on a whim while hunting for a good space.
"When I hit the traffic light, I saw the beautiful gazebo, I saw the beautiful art gallery, I saw the hustle and bustle of this small village, and I thought, 'This is it, this is the place I want to be.'"
Since then, numerous Main Street businesses have closed their doors. What remains — including a restaurant, Subway store, bike shop, engineering firm and beauty shop — would not be threatened by the inn, the group says, and would likely benefit from the increased traffic. Ideally, DePersis said, it would lead to further investment from other retailers.
"People may see this and say, 'I might open my quilt shop on Main Street,' or, 'I might put my used book store there,'" DePersis said.
For Herz, the progression is clear: Restore the inn, sell it to a manager, and let the business sprout others in the village. While that plays out, the Windsor Community Revitalization Organization will plow the proceeds of the sale into its next restoration project, which has yet to be decided. Success in Windsor, he said, could be a model for other grassroots revitalization projects in Broome County.
"This is the anchor to rejuvenate this village to what [board member] Sue [Rambo] and Bill and I remember it from when we were younger," he said. "It's a vision."
Follow John R. Roby on Twitter @PSBJRoby.